Missouri Deer Season Roadway Dangers
Posted on October 27th, 2017 by Zane Cagle
As many of my buddies know, deer season is almost upon us. While I have not hunted in years, fall is the most dangerous season for deer crossing the roadway, resulting in motor vehicle crashes. The likelihood of being involved in a deer-related crash increases dramatically in November.
Crash in Cole County Early Thursday
A young New Bloomfield man was involved in a collision this morning and seriously injured. According to reports, the crash was a result a deer on Highway U.S. 50 at Marino Road in Cole County. The car became airborne and then struck the ground again, rolling and coming to rest on its side.
November–Highest Number of Deer-Related Crashes
About one-quarter of all deer-related crashes in the U.S. happen in the month of November. Deer are on and around roadways overnight, particularly at dawn and dusk. If you see one, you should assume there are several more. After talking with so many victims of deer-related collisions, the crashes always seem to be worse when a driver tries to swerve and avoid hitting the deer. It’s a messed up thing because our human nature makes us want to swerve to avoid hitting something in the road. But, as troopers recommend, it is usually far better to strike the animal than swerve.
Highway Patrol Recommendations on Avoiding Collisions with Deer
Troopers who work a lot of deer-related crashes recommend that you slow down significantly if you are in a rural area and to stay alert. Furthermore,
- Stay alert and pay attention to the road and roadside. Slow down in areas where deer signs are posted and in rural areas, near golf courses
- Understand the peak time for deer movement is during dawn and dusk hours.
- If you see a deer, slow down. They have a tendency to bolt in odd directions or freeze, just as the “deer-in-the-headlights” expression states
- Always wear your seat belt. Statistics show that more people are fatally injured or seriously injured in deer-related crashes when they do not have on seat belts
- Do not take unsafe measures to avoid hitting a deer such as swerving as you then risk hitting another car or losing control and hitting other objects.
- Motorcyclists must be extra aware as a deer-strike is most often deadly for a motorcyclist
- Prior safety messages have included the idea that it is better to strike and “drive through” the animal than to swerve. Of course, this can be dangerous as well, but statistics tell us that striking the animal instead of swerving results in less injury to the vehicle occupant. Of course, reducing your speed is key. Hitting a deer at 80 mph will not go well for any driver.
- If you hit a deer, pull over to the side of the roadway. Do not attempt to remove the deer from the roadway. Call 911 immediately.
Stay Calm and Try Not to Panic or Overreact
Easy to say, harder to do. Last year in Missouri, there were 4,604 traffic crashes involving deer which averages to one deer strike every 1.9 hours. There were six fatalities and 455 injuries in these crashes. October and November is the whitetail deer’s mating season or “rut” which causes bucks to be particularly bold in movement as they search for mates. Also, deer are searching for food sources before winter. The cooler temperatures also contribute to deer being on the move.
Full moons also contribute to more deer movement because there is more light. The next full moon is November 4 and then again on December 3rd.
Slow Down and Be Alert
I drive a lot of miles every week and often in rural areas. Honestly, the thought of hitting a deer with my car scares me to death. Of course, traveling down the interstate with semi-trucks late at night can be just as stressful. We’ve all had those near-miss encounters due to others not paying attention or an animal darting into the road. If you drive much, you know exactly what I’m talking about–the idea of hitting anything with your car is panic invoking.
I’ve looked into all of the gadgets sold as deer deflectors and alarms–they do not work. You should never count on them. The best thing you can do is slow down and remain vigilant. I grew up in the country and I know that a wild animal can cross the roadway any time of the year, but because I grew up in the country, I do know that fall is the worst time for deer.
If Injured in a Motor Vehicle Collision….
If you are injured in a motor vehicle collision, you may need an attorney. Generally, if you are the driver in a deer strike crash, you have to make the claim under your own insurance policy. However, if you are struck by another vehicle striking a deer or swerving to keep from hitting a deer, you may have a claim against their insurance company. Likewise, any time you are a passenger in a vehicle, you usually have a claim against the driver’s insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company—if you are hurt.
Obviously, if you are not hurt, then you are not making an injury claim and you do no need an attorney.
Call us at (314) 276-1681 for a free consultation.